The reason behind the Putin-Erdogan closeness


The reason behind the Putin-Erdogan closeness

If any country want to compete with the western world in the tactical game of geopolitics, there is no alternative to friendship. 

This is well understood by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Now the two are so close.

 The Western and European worlds have started frowning on the issue. An analysis of The Economist by the British media reveals the reasons behind their unusual friendship.

The Economist says the US-led military alliance, NATO, has been accused of trying to oust Russian President Vladimir Putin.

 The allegation is from the Kremlin. Alexei Navalny, a fierce critic and opponent of Putin, has been described as a "US agent." Not only the NATO alliance, but also the Kremlin is angry with the European Union. 

The European Union (EU) has condemned the assassination attempt on Navalny. So in the eyes of the Kremlin, the EU is an unreliable ally. But Putin is happy with a country who has the EU membership and is a NATO ally. The country is Turkey.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not try to interfere in Russia's internal affairs. Erdogan did not comment on the Kremlin's treatment of Navalny or the arrest of hundreds of people in Russia over the protests. His silence has made Putin happy.

In the current context, Putin is pulling Turkey closer to the West. Hopefully, he will be able to use the country against NATO. On the other hand, Erdogan is getting Russia to increase his influence.

In the eyes of the Economist, the relationship between the two leaders is largely counter-current or unusual. Because, there has been a deep historical rivalry between the two countries for a long time. 

The conflict of interest intensified for various reasons. In many cases it does not even take the form of conflict. The leaders of these two powerful countries have forged a bond that has turned regional politics upside down. This relationship is creating a bizarre problem for Turkey's Western allies.

Historically, Russia and Turkey have been involved in more than a dozen wars. They have hit each other where the interests of the two countries are involved. The war in Libya and Syria is proof of that. They also faced each other in September last year.

Turkey sided with Muslim-dominated Azerbaijan, and Russia sided with Armenia. The two countries were behind the Nagorno-Karabakh war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. 

The scene changed in November last year. Vladimir Putin has spoken of an agreement to completely end the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan all agreed to the agreement.

Both Putin and Erdogan understand that it is more important to be prepared to use this power than to balance the superpowers.
Andrei Kurtonov, head of the Russian International Affairs Council

The Economist reports that the world saw the opposite when a Turkish tank hit a Russian tank in favor of Armenia. Putin praised Erdogan. He offered friendship to Erdogan.

 Putin's tone began to change in October last year. Praising Erdogan in front of foreign experts, he said, "It is safe and a pleasure to work with such a collaborator."

Erdogan, on the other hand, saluted Putin and began testing their S-400 missile system. The United States lost business in Turkey from the middle. Russia took the opportunity to sell the missiles to Turkey.

The whole Nagorno-Karabakh battle scene changed in November after this behind-the-scenes transaction story. Both sides agreed to stop fighting. It went down in bargaining. This gave Russia the opportunity to deploy troops in Nagorno-Karabakh and increase Turkey's economic power in the South Caucasus. The agreement between Russia and Turkey has been a major blow to global geopolitics.

Andrei Kurtonov, head of the Russian International Affairs Council, said: "Both Putin and Erdogan understand that it is more important to be ready to use this power than to strike a balance between the superpowers."

They are close to reduce the US influence

The Economist says that while the United States has more powerful forces, its reluctance to get involved in the war in Syria has led Russia and Turkey to take responsibility for the region. 

The two countries also escalated the conflict in Azerbaijan and Armenia in a show of strength. Putin announced his goal at the Munich Security Conference. Their mission is to limit America's new hegemony.

Russia and Turkey have already taken joint action to reduce the influence of Western powers. In the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution and the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Kemal Ataturk took Lenin as his friend. 

Russia then provided Turkey with weapons to fight the Greeks and the British. In return, the Turks gave control of oil in the Bolshevik region to the Russians.

 That agreement between Ataturk and Lenin in 1921 defined Turkey's northeastern border. Last year's Nagorno-Karabakh agreement is also seen as a reflection of that historic agreement.

Erdogan has a personal relationship with Putin that many Western leaders do not have. The two do not have strong rivals in their own country. So what they decide for themselves,they have the power to implement that.  
-Emre Arsen, an expert on Russia at Marmara University in Istanbul

In the current context, Putin is pulling Turkey closer to the West. Hopefully, he will be able to use it against NATO. On the other hand, Erdogan is getting Russia to increase his influence. 

Putin has taken the initiative since 2016 to take the path of friendship. At that time there was a special coup in Turkey to remove Erdogan. But Erdogan survived. After the coup failed, Putin praised the Turkish president. "Like it or not, he has shown enough skill in building unity," he said. 

Many Western countries were slow to back Erdogan at the time. Erdogan also visited Russia. He agreed to install a gas pipeline there. He also agreed to continue building nuclear facilities in Turkey in cooperation with Russia.

"Turkey has a shortage of fighter jets," said Emre Arsen, a Russia expert at Marmara University in Istanbul. The issue of the agreement with Russia became a turning point in their relations. 

When NATO did not agree to help Turkey, Turkey understood that it had to make an agreement with Russia.

Erdogan's direct meetings with Putin have increased since 2016. In Syria, the two sides once faced each other, but now they are allies. 

Turkey is now conducting military operations in northern Syria only with the permission of Russia. Erdogan's allies are now moving away from west. They are now leaning towards China and Russia.

Arms and trade have improved relations
The decision to buy Turkey's S-400 air defense system became important in building a new relationship with Russia.

 Two years ago, Erdogan announced the deal as the most important deal in the country. Of course, Turkey had to pay a high price to buy this system.

For this, Turkey has spent two and a half billion US dollars on hardware. Excluding the US F-35 program has cost 9 billion. In addition, they had to face the anger of the United States.

Russia's S-400 missile

The Economist says Erdogan was desperate to buy weapons and defense equipment to deal with the security risks posed by the 2016 coup.

 Many people think that America had a hand in that coup. Rumor has it that Erdogan was informed of the risk to his life by Russian military intelligence.

Apart from arms purchases, trade and investment are also playing a big role in building relations between the two countries. Russia mainly exports their electricity. 

Turkey's trade deficit with Russia is 13.4 billion US dollars. "We can't underestimate the importance of business relations," said Behlul Ozkan, a researcher at Marmara University. 

Turkey's construction industry is getting big tenders. Russia is a big market for them. Turkish companies have already completed a 40 billion project.

The relationship between the two countries is even stronger mainly due to the struggling economies of the two countries. Turkey's inflation and unemployment problems have increased since 2018. 

The Turkish lira has halved against the dollar in four years. Russia's economy has been suffering for years. Putin and Erdogan both understand that they are surrounded by enemies outside. So they had to resort to aggression tactics to move the eyes of their country people from these problems.

The ambition of the two leaders

Both Putin and Erdogan are considered ambitious leaders. The border situation between the two countries has also played a role in bringing them closer. 

Turkey and Russia are both isolated from Europe. Turkey has been trying to join the European Union for a long time. But they are not succeeding. In addition, the two dictators are focused on expanding the empire. Putin already showed evidence.

He is trying to rebuild the Soviet Empire. He has waged war on Georgia and Ukraine. Erdogan can also bring back his country's Ottoman past. His aggressive foreign policy proves it.

Relationships are strategic

"Erdogan has a personal relationship with Putin that many western leaders do not have," said expert Emre Arsen. The two do not have strong rivals in their own country. So they have the power to implement the decisions they make. "

Erdogan knows he may have to pay compensation for canceling the deal with the United States. Public opinion and Congress can take any action in this regard. Of course, Putin does not have these worries. 

His current problem is Alexi Navalny. Criticism of Navalny's imprisonment is growing in the Western world. But it is not like taking power out of the fist of his hand. 

Erdogan, on the other hand, knows that, not all of his comrades treat him well. His control is waning despite he is controlling the opposition, the courts and the media. His party lost control of Istanbul in the last local elections.

But the Economist says Turkey and Russia are still a long way from true friendship. "We are not talking about a strategic partnership," said Anura Izci, head of the Center for Russian Studies at Bilkent University. I don't think Turkey has the luxury of taking the risk of severing all institutional ties with the West. "

At present, Turkey is gradually seceding from the Western alliance. Partnership with Russia is very recent and not very deep.

 It can turn around at any time. The challenge for US President Joe Biden now is to prevent Turkey from moving too far away from the West and grabbing Putin's hand forever.

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